DPSA, DPME & Stats SA Budgetary Review & Recommendations Report

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

16 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr J Maswanganyi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

2018 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

The Committee met to consider and adopt the 2017/18 Budget Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRR) of the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), Public Service Commission (PSC), National School of Government (NSG), the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and Statistics South Africa (StatsSA). Members provided input on the Reports’ observations, findings and recommendations. This discussion was in relation to voluntary severance packages, moratorium on the appointment of Heads of Departments, reporting timelines, youth directorates in departments, spatial planning and job advertisements.

Due to the number of amendments to be made, and that some matters needed following up by the Committee staff, Members agreed to meet tomorrow to adopt the three BRRRs.

Meeting report

Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Performance Monitoring and Evaluation  on the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), Public Service Commission (PSC), National School of Government (NSG) and the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI)
The Committee went through the Report page by page.

Under the observations and key findings section of the Report, the Chairperson suggested the matter of vacancies be factual, contain numbers and not be generalised.

Mr M Ntombela (ANC) suggested findings under Auditor-General be stated clearly.

The Chairperson remembered that the Minister said, in one of the meetings of the Committee, that she would brief the Committee on Voluntary Severance Packages. Treasury has not committed itself to the decision on the matter. He advised that maybe better to hang on to the matter i.e. that no recommendation be made on it.

The Committee agreed.

The Chairperson suggested the housing allowance be captured as R1 200 for eligible employees. Legal experts were enlisted to reduce the backlog of disciplinary cases in the public service.

Mr S Motau (DA) suggested the wording for Maponya Thusong Service Centre be altered. He commended the centre for being one of the best run in the country.

The Committee consented to the idea.

The Chairperson suggested the paragraph on ethics does not read well and requested the officials reformulate it. What is reported on the CPSI and NSG achievements should rather be rephrased to show what the target was and what was achieved. This will assist with the evidence of whether there is growth or not.

The Committee agreed.

The Chairperson also clarified that the Public Service Commission does not report to the Minister but directly to Parliament because it is a Commission.

Mr Ntombela then raised the matter of the Heads of Departments who disappear from one department to another within a short space of time.  Some officials occupying management positions are on suspension.  This costs the state a lot of money.

The Chairperson asked if there is no moratorium on the appointment of Heads of Departments (HODs) at national level. There seems to be one if the departments were told to work with what they already have.

Mr Julius Ngoepe, Committee Content Advisor, confirmed the moratorium which would last until May 2019. There are however exceptions here and there.
           
The Chairperson further indicated it is the President who appoints HODs at the request of Parliament. Moving on to the section discussing the role of PSA, he requested officials rephrase it as it was too lengthy. The other concerning matter was that of government employees who do business with the state.
           
Ms D van der Walt (DA) said the problem is mainly in the provinces. A directive was issued on it.

The Chairperson responded that the problem existed in national government too. There is a long and detailed report on it by Treasury and the PSC as well as a detailed directive on how to deal with this and block it. Going into the details of this can land Parliament in a challenge. He further advised that it will be better not to go into the operations part of the matter in question. The detailed report said government must deal decisively with its employees who do business with the state. He cautioned that the operations part be left out of the Committee’s Report and that the recommendation sticks to acknowledging this particular problem. The Committee has the report from the PSC and the National Treasury.

Ms Van der Walt then suggested the recommendation say affected departments must stick to what is entailed in the document.

The Committee agreed to both suggestions.
           
On the matter of disciplinary cases in backlog, the Chairperson said the Deputy Minister said the services of almost 200 trained legal experts were enlisted to assist in reducing the backlog and finalise pending cases in the public service. He suggested the recommendation says this is acknowledged but the Committee requests the legal experts move with speed.

The Chairperson suggested that on the CPSI, recommendations should also include national departments. The emphasis was that this related to all government departments and not only provincial ones.

On the reporting timelines, the Chairperson asked if the Report should be specific about how often the Department has to report. There is already a parliamentary framework speaking to this. He cautioned that the Committee should not go into the details of the framework.

The Committee agreed to this.

On the matter of Treasury and the PSC, the Chairperson stated the independence of Treasury is well defined in the Constitution. He suggested the Report not include too many organs or people. The recommendation is that the PSC must be well resourced to be able to perform its duties independently without being compromised.

The military hospital level and quality of service was raised as a concern. The PSC will share its findings on this matter. It was suggested by the Chairperson that to who the hospital caters for is not of critical concern.  The main concern is service delivery.

The Committee cautioned the section of the Report dealing with NSG as it seemed to question the authenticity of its curriculum.

The sentiment was echoed by the Chairperson and Committee officials were requested to rephrase the paragraph to sound less critical of the results of the NSG.  

It was then pointed out that the conclusion captured too many matters. The points raised should be separated as constituencies did want to know what was happening with gender equity and people with disability. 

Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Performance Monitoring and Evaluation on Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and National Youth Development Agency (NYDA)
The Committee went through the report page by page.

Mr Y Cassim (DA) referred to the table of the allocated budgets per programme and questioned the comparison of expenditure compared to the previous year.

The Chairperson suggested the Committee staff compile such a report per programme.

The Chairperson reminded Members about the presentation by the Commission and the discussion on whether it will accomplish results in terms of the 2030 plan if continued at the current pace. This would be monitored.

Observations and key findings
The Chairperson was unsure whether it was a Cabinet decision to have youth directorates in all departments. This was in reference to the observation/finding on government departments no longer prioritising youth development programmes. There was a youth directorate in the offices of the Premiers. He requested Mr Ngoepe clarify some matters on youth directorates and youth desks.

Mr Ngoepe informed the Committee that it was a Cabinet decision of 2004 to have every department establish a youth directorate within its organisational structure. He further confirmed that youth desks are found in the municipalities and offices of the Premiers.  

Mr Cassim said the Committee should check if the decision said each department must have a directorate. Should this be the case, it will have far-reaching consequences. It would mean that each department would have to appoint a Director. There is a difference between a desk and a directorate.  The Committee staff should research whether it was meant to be a youth directorate or youth desk.

Ms Van der Walt said the public service is looking into budgets cuts so it cannot be permissible to have Director's appointed for youth matters in each department.

The Chairperson suggested the Committee simply say it has noted that some government departments have abandoned the youth programmes.

The Committee agreed.

O the matter of norms and standards for the national youth service programme, Mr Ngoepe was requested to elaborate.

Mr Ngoepe explained the matter was raised by Ms Z Dubazana (ANC) in the previous meeting. Members requested the NYDA finalise and bring the norms and standards to them for interrogation before it was approved. The problem might be how this was captured in the Report.

The Chairperson said there is a need to separate powers here because this was a matter for the Executive to initiate.  Once this was done, the matter could then be taken to Parliament. The Committee must be careful not to be seen as coining policies and dictating to departments. The Committee must observe its parameters to avoid being dragged into the problems of departments.

Mr Cassim agreed that the wording be changed – the problem was perhaps with how the point was phrased. It should be captured to convey the request that the submission be for expression of opinion. He agreed that indeed Parliament does not have authority to rectify or dictate norms and standards since this is the role of the Minister.

The Chairperson said the Committee plays an oversight role over the departments without necessarily getting into the Executive terrain. The Committee staff must check the background against which this point was made and amend the wording.

Members agreed.

Moving to recommendations, the Chairperson noted the recommendation on the finalisation of the transfer of spatial planning and land reform management.

Mr Cassim stated Parliament does not take any decisions on matters such as this nor can it dictate on it.  The Committee can express its opinion by way of recommendation.

The Chairperson said it is the wish of DPME to have this competency but it is actually for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.  This is an Executive competency and the Committee has not yet met the Department of Rural Development. The Committee did not have a view on the matter at this stage and should it express its opinion this might put the President in a difficult position. He cautioned that operations of the Committee not be seen to set one department against another. The Committee must be careful with separation of powers.

The Chairperson suggested that perhaps the matter be captured by acknowledging there are two departments looking at spatial planning. The Committee’s recommendation could urge Cabinet or the President to finalise where the competency should lie. The Act says that this is the duty of land reform.  The Committee can just raise a concern on the contestation but it is mainly interested in the function being carried out. 

The Committee agreed.

Members also recommended the NYDA must finalise its Act of 2008.

It was recommended that departments owing the National School of Government should honour requirements to pay for the service within 30 days.

Inclusion of TVET qualifications in job advertisements of government was a joint agreement between the Committee and NYDA. The Chairperson said this was a mandate from the President.  The mandate cannot say experience should not be a requirement.

Mr Cassim indicated that some posts require special qualifications and also have specialised requirements. His concern was whether the President would say all government posts be open to those with TVET qualifications, even specialised posts.  He used an example of a Municipal Manager post, which requires a specialised competency.  Parliament cannot differ with Cabinet but it is free to express its opinion. The recommendation could assist with the process.

Mr Ntombela said the spirit with which this came about was to ensure the youth with TVET qualifications should not be discriminated against. It is also for this reason that government should not be seen to be undermining TVET result with TVET colleges being a programme of government. 

Mr Cassim suggested the recommendation include that the capabilities of TVET qualifications be taken into consideration when advertising. 

The Chairperson asked that the Committee staff check the background and context to the President’s call on youth employment and rephrase the recommendation accordingly. The Committee should embrace the spirit of the President.

Mr Cassim suggested the NYDA look into its spending patterns and cut down on employee compensation.  These funds should rather be challenged to youth development programmes.

The Committee agreed.

The Chairperson added that the South African wage bill is very high.  In many departments money for goods and services are being consumed by the wage bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Performance Monitoring and Evaluation on Statistics South Africa
The Committee went through the Report page by page.

Under recommendations, the Committee noted budget shortfalls experienced by StatsSA due to budget cuts. This compromised the credibility of statistical information. The Committee's view is that the matter be referred for attention by the Ministers of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and Finance.

With vacant, critical posts in Stats SA, once a post is vacated, it is not allowed to fill it. This is due to budget cuts which National Treasury has to be approached for reconsideration. Employment of women in senior positions has to be prioritised in StatsSA. The Committee asked the staff if there is a moratorium on vacant posts.

The Chairperson advised that the process of amending the StatsSA Act be speeded up. The report by the representatives indicated it has been almost two years since this was started.

The Committee would meet tomorrow to adopt the amendment Reports.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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